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About Stepparent Adoptions

Panama City Family Law Attorney

The adoption laws in Florida are aimed at protecting the child, his or her birth parents, and the adoptive parents during adoption proceedings. Adoption is a serious matter for all parties involved for it determines the future of the child because it permanently severs the ties with one or both birth parents and it transfers the child into the care of a new family or stepparent of whom they will rely upon for guidance and support.

In Florida, stable adults who are of good character and who have the ability to provide for a child may adopt. Single adults and married couples may adopt, and stepparents may adopt his or her spouse's children. An adoption officially establishes a legal parent-child relationship between the child and the adoptive parent, and this relationship is no different than the legal relationship between the legal biological parent and their child. In Florida there are four types of adoptions: agency adoptions, stepparent adoptions, close relative adoptions and adult adoptions.

In general, stepparent adoptions occur under the following circumstances:

  • The absent (biological) parent is deceased.
  • The absent parent has abandoned their child, they have failed to maintain a meaningful relationship with their child, and in many cases their whereabouts is unknown.
  • The absent parent supports the stepparent adoption and agrees to consent to the adoption.

It's important to note that if the child's other biological parent is paying child support and maintains regular contact with his or her child; you will not be able to complete a stepparent adoption unless the other parent agrees to consent to the adoption.

Terminating Parental Rights

In order for a court to approve a Florida stepparent adoption, it must receive proof that it is in the child's best interests to terminate the biological relationship permanently. The natural parent may voluntarily consent to the adoption and surrender his or her rights to their child, or alternatively, the court must see proof that the natural parent abused, abandoned, or neglected or failed to protect their parental rights.

In Florida, an unmarried biological father is required to register his paternity with Florida's Putative Father Registry, and if he does not, then the court will not require his consent before completing an adoption plan. Once an unmarried biological father receives the Notice of Intended Adoption Plan, he has 30 days from the date of service to register his paternity. In a stepparent adoption, the court is required to serve a known and locatable unmarried biological father with a Notice of Intended Adoption plan; this document will advise him of Florida's Putative Father Registry and the steps he must take to avoid default, as well as the waiver of any claim of rights to his child.

Once the court has issued a judgment terminating the biological parent's rights to their child, then the stepparent is eligible to finalize their adoption right away. The stepparent also has the option of proceeding in a unified legal process where the order finalizing the adoption simultaneously terminates the parental rights.

Stepparent adoptions are standard when the biological parent is willing to give up their parental rights to the stepparent. With stepparent adoptions, when the child is age twelve or older, the child must give their consent to the adoption, and they must be interviewed before they give their consent.

Once the adoption has been granted at the final hearing, the stepparent will assume parental rights and responsibilities towards the child, with the other birth parent's parental rights terminated. Usually, the child's last name will be changed to match the family; the new information will be registered with the vital statistics office where the child was born, and a new birth certificate will be created listing the stepparent as the child's birth parent, and the child's original birth certificate will not be available to anyone in the future. Once the new birth certificate has been crated, a new social security number will be issued.

Contact Seaton Law Offices, P.A. for Adoption Help

The adoption process is complicated and the Florida Bar strongly recommends getting the advice of a Panama City family law attorney before contemplating any type of an adoption. Stepparent adoption is a very rewarding experience for both parent and child, and at Seaton Law Offices, P.A., we are here to inform you of your rights and responsibilities and provide you with in-depth answers to all of your questions regarding stepparent adoption.

For reliable advice you can trust, give us a call today.

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